Balloon Boy Parents Plead Guilty to Hoax Charges

Richard Heene, father of ‘balloon boy’ Falcon Heene, pleaded guilty in court Friday to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant. Richard and Mayumi Heene admitted in court they falsely reported their son missing and claimed he might be inside a runaway balloon.


Richard Heene pleaded guilty to a felony charge of falsely influencing the sheriff who led the team trying to locate the allegedly missing boy. Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false report with emergency services. The plea deal was reached partially to prevent authorities from attempting to deport Mayumi Heene, who is citizen of Japan.

The parents of the media-dubbed ‘balloon boy’ admitted in court they staged the hoax to drum up publicity in hopes of landing their own reality TV show. The Heene family appeared twice on the ABC reality show Wife Swap and were hoping to broker the publicity from the balloon stunt into their own series.

Richard Heene could face up to 90 days in jail on the felony charge. Wife Mayumi Heene could get 60 days in jail for her guilty plea on the misdemeanor charge. The Heene family may also be forced to repay a portion of the huge costs incurred by police and emergency services in the hunt for their son.

“There are financial consequences that could be significant,” District Judge Stephen Schapanski said at the court hearing.

We think in addition to a bit of jail time, Richard and Mayumi Heene should also be forbidden to profit in any way from their self-created 15 minutes of fame. No TV interviews, no book deals, no tabloid interviews, nada. It is long past time people who are willing to do anything for fame – including sacrifice the welfare of their children – got a proper kick in the face.

>> Previously: Balloon Boy Throws Up on Today Show, Father Denies Hoax

Lifetime Pulls Heene ‘Wife Swap’ Episode After Balloon Boy Mom Admits Hoax

Lifetime has pulled an episode of Wife Swap featuring the Heene family scheduled to air on Oct 29. Mayumi Heene, mother of the so-called Balloon Boy, admitted to police investigators earlier this week the whole incident was a hoax.


Falcon Heene, dubbed the Balloon Boy in the national media, was reported missing on Oct 15. An experimental hot air balloon had allegedly broken free from the family’s home and the six-year-old boy was initially feared to be inside of it.

When Falcon Heene was later found hiding in the family garage, speculation the balloon boy incident was an elaborate hoax to drum up publicity began to escalate. The Heene family had previously appeared on Wife Swap and was allegedly attempting to land their own family-themed reality TV show.

In an affidavit filed by police authorities this week, Balloon Boy mom Mayumi Heene reportedly admitted she and husband Richard Heene had planned the incident as a publicity hoax. Richard Heene has previously repeatedly denied to both police and the media that the incident was a hoax.

“Mayumi described that she and Richard Heene devised this hoax approximately two weeks earlier… She and Richard had instructed their three children to lie to authorities as well as the media regarding the hoax,” the affidavit said.

In response to the controversy, Lifetime had pulled a follow-up episode of Wife Swap featuring the Heene family scheduled to air on Oct 29.

Balloon Boy Found Alive Hiding in Family Garage

Six-year-old Falcon Heene, dubbed the Balloon Boy in the media, has been found alive and unhurt. According to a report by CNN, the boy was allegedly discovered hiding in the family garage.

The Heene family on 'Wife Swap' - ABC

Falcon Heene was reported missing by his family after an experimental homemade balloon broke away from its tether at his home in northern Colorado. The boy’s brother had reportedly told his parents he saw the six-year-old climb into the balloon before it flew away.

After Falcon Heene was reported missing, hundreds of volunteers and emergency services workers began searching for the boy. The flyaway balloon was videotaped during its  100 mile journey across Colorado, with every frame examined for signs of the missing boy. The balloon landed intact near Colorado Springs earlier this afternoon.

>> Previously: Weird News: Missing Balloon Boy Family Appeared on ‘Wife Swap’

Weird News: Missing Balloon Boy Family Appeared on ‘Wife Swap’

A missing six-year-old child dubbed the Balloon Boy by the media appeared with his family last year on the ABC reality series Wife Swap. Falcon Heene went missing on Thursday after the family’s experimental hot air balloon floated away from their home.

The Heene Family on 'Wife Swap' - ABC
The Heene Family on 'Wife Swap' - ABC

Six-year-old Falcon Heene has been missing since a homemade hot air balloon broke free from its tether at his family’s home in northern Colorado. The boy’s family believes he may have been inside a box or basket attached to the base of the balloon. One of the boy’s brothers reportedly told his parents Falcon Heene had climbed into the balloon and untied the rope keeping it anchored to the ground.

The experimental balloon, which the family says was never meant to be flown, flew over a 100 miles before coming to rest near Colorado Springs. The boy and the alleged box attached to the balloon were not found with the balloon. The balloon is believed to have risen to a height of up to nearly 10,000 feet before floating to the ground.

One of Falcon Heene’s brothers reportedly told authorities he saw his brother fall from the balloon after it took off, according to Video footage of the balloon’s flight seems to show an object falling from the balloon while it was in flight.

The Heene family was featured in an episode of ABC’s Wife Swap last year – billed as the ‘storm-chasing family’ – and was invited back to appear on the 100th episode of the series. Some have speculated the incident is a publicity stunt, but so far authorities are taking the case very seriously. The Heene children appeared in a YouTube video (below) earlier this year making fun of their overprotective parents.

>> Update: Balloon Boy Found Alive Hiding in Family Garage